No Guilt In Him, My Guilt On Him

These days my reading plan has me feeding on Jesus, as He makes His way to the cross, in “bite-sized” chunks. All of it is pretty familiar stuff. But oh, if I slow down and “chew my food” well, there are worship-evoking flavors to be savored afresh. Case in point? Pilate’s pronouncement.

`Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify Him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found in Him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release Him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that He should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

(Luke23:20-25 ESV)

I have found in Him no guilt deserving death. Those words rang out as I read them. “No guilt in Him,” says Pilate. “Why crucify Him?” he asks.

Pilate wasn’t necessarily bound by a high code of justice. After all, he was ready to beat up an innocent man some more if it would satisfy the blood lust of the crowd. But put to death a man in whom no guilt was found? Even for Pilate that seemed to be a bit extreme. But while there was in Him no guilt deserving death, I know that soon there would be on Him guilt deserving death.

While Pilate may not have been just, God is just. Thus, if rebellious, sinful, antagonistic image-bearers of God were to ever have a way back, any hope of a means of reconciliation, then it was necessary for their guilt to be found on Him.

But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

(Isaiah 53:5-6 ESV)

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

(John 1:29 ESV)

Pilate didn’t see any reason on earth for Jesus to die. But our heavenly Father had purposed, before the foundation of the earth, to ransom a wayward creation through the precious blood of His promised Messiah (1Pet.1:18-20). To lay upon the guiltless One the guilt of our iniquity. Forever atoning for our transgression through the once for all, and once forever, sacrifice of His beloved Son.

Thus, while on earth delivering the Son of God over to the will of His creation seemed to be the most unjustifiable act of all time, Pilate was, in reality, delivering Jesus over to the Father’s will (Isa. 53:10) so that many could be justified forever (4:25).

No guilt in Him. My guilt on Him.

That I might know life eternal through Him.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Because of grace. For His glory.

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No Ifs, Ands, or Buts

There was a problem with the first covenant. If there hadn’t been, says the writer to the Hebrews, there would have been no need for a second. And that problem, according to the Spirit, wasn’t with the old covenant, it was with the material it had to work with (Heb. 8:7-8a).

It was an if/then covenant. If you obey, then you will be blessed. If you don’t obey, then you will end up on the receiving end of curses. “You” was the weak link in the old covenant. Thus, when he’s moved of God to quote the prophet, the writer to the Hebrews removes “you” and, along with it, the ifs, ands, and buts.

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

(Hebrews 8:10-12 ESV)

Jeremiah prophesied of a new covenant with Israel — a promise, I believe, yet to be fully realized. Yet the dynamics of this new spiritual economy were introduced at Pentecost and are now at play within the church, those redeemed through the blood of Christ by faith. In a sense, you could say the church is the “prototype” of what it looks like when men and women who are made in the image of God are regenerated, indwelt, and formed into the likeness of the Son of God by the Spirit of God.

And the power of this new covenant? “You” is removed. Replaced with “I will,” says God Most High –the sovereign, omnipotent God of heaven and earth.

No ifs. No quid pro quo. Not dependent on my works. Not relying on my righteousness. My obedience shifted from a requisite for blessing to a response to blessing. Having been born again through the cross, I purpose, by His enabling, to live in its shadow. Having been loved with an unfailing, steadfast love by God, I desire to love God in return with the love He has poured into my heart. Having been brought into relationship with the Savior, I long to abide with the Savior as a branch grafted into the Vine. Having been given the Spirit, I want to be led by the Spirit even as I’m empowered to walk in the Spirit.

No ands. The work of the cross is finished. The way into the holy of holies complete. I can bring nothing to the table to make me any more redeemed. It’s “Jesus + Nothing” or it’s not worth anything. By grace alone through faith alone or, I’m left to my own devices alone.

No buts. While the grace of God is not so I might presume upon God, it is the reality that keeps me secure when I stumble in my walk for God. My weak flesh unable to weaken His love for me. My defeats before the enemy giving Him no thought to abandon me. My propensity to wander into the world never leading to the point where He has lost His grip on me. Even when I don’t, He will. That’s the power of the new covenant. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Not my will but Your will be done.

By Your grace. For Your glory.

Thank you, Lord.

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We Have Heard It Ourselves

As far as back-and-forth conversations go, it was a pretty short one — at least according to how Mark was led by the Spirit to record it. Only 70 words, and most of those single syllable words. Not long. Not complex. But pretty profound.

They spoke 7 words, He responds with 37. They counter with 7 more words, He wraps things up with 5 . . . and, for those with ears to hear, it’s a “drop the mic” moment. All that’s left is for them to say among themselves, “We’re done here.”

As I chew on this mini-debate of eternal significance though, twelve words quiet my heart and evoke my praise. For I am so grateful we have heard it ourselves.

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led [Jesus] away to their council, and they said, “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from His own lips.”

(Luke 22:66-71 ESV)

The Christ. The Son of Man. The Son of God. I Am.

Twelve single-syllable words. Thirty-four letters. But get them, believe them, and respond to them? And they are eternity.

The religious elite understood that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, but they wanted to hear it from His lips one more time. Not so they could bow down before God’s promised Redeemer, but so as to charge this Carpenter from Nazareth with blasphemy. Not so they could confess Him as the Author of Life, but that they might condemn Him to death (Matt. 26:65-66).

But Jesus takes their “the Christ” accusation and punctuates it with His own “the Son of Man” proclamation. They take His “the Son of Man” and draw a line in the sand with their “the Son of God.” And then Jesus steps way over the line, blowing the line away with, “You got it! I AM!”

And, for us followers of Christ, we have heard it ourselves from His own lips, as well.

Not because we are so smart, but because He is so patient. Not because we’re better than those hard-hearted accusers, but only because we believed — and this not our own doing; “it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). Not to our credit, but because of His grace.

So, there’s another back-and-forth conversation happening this morning, and it’s happening at this desk. He speaks through His Spirit from the written word before me. I respond with worship from the heart of faith within me.

Jesus is the Christ, the promised Redeemer and Rescuer. He is the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the power of God. He is the Son of God, soon to return in power as King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the ever and always existing I AM.

So grateful this morning that we have heard it ourselves.

By His grace. For His glory.

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The Stability of Our Times

I know enough about reading Isaiah that, within the prophecies of days of judgment and days of restoration, there is pictured events which are imminent and events which are little further off in the future. Judah to be judged soon, the world to be judged eventually. Return from exile and restoration, at least on a temporary basis within at least some of the people’s lives he’s writing to, reconstruction, on a forever basis for those who are possessors of eternal life. Sorting through which is which can be tricky — and sometimes, I’m pretty sure, it’s not either/or it’s both/and. Such may be the case with a couple of verses I’m hovering over this morning.

The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high; He will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and He will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure.

(Isaiah 33:5-6 ESV)

According to my handy-dandy, online bible program, some commentators view this vision of Isaiah being fulfilled when Hezekiah became king over Judah. And to be sure, under his reign there was a great reversal of Judah’s slide down the slippery slope of idolatry and rebellion (2Chr. 29-31). The temple was cleansed and reopened for business. The Passover again celebrated in a way that had not been seen in Jerusalem since King Solomon. And the priesthood revitalized. To be sure, the fear of the LORD seemed to have again come to Judah. But, all that was undone (and more) when, after Hezekiah’s death, his son, Manasseh, took the throne.

So, while Hezekiah may have been the stability of your times if your times ended when his did, if you happened to live beyond Hezekiah, he would have been the stability of your times for only some of your time. Thus, only partially fulfilling Isaiah’s words. (Make sense?)

Thus, could Isaiah have also been pointing to another king who would come who would be the stability for all times? I’m thinkin’ . . .

There is coming a day when the King of kings will return, be exalted, and dwell on high. A time when He will fill Zion, and the whole earth, with justice and righteousness, with an abundance of salvation, wisdom and knowledge. And He will be the stability of your times for all time. Even so, Lord Jesus, come!

But as I chew on the promise of this future day I’m reminded that Jesus is the stability of your times even at this time.

If any one word could describe our current times, it’s unstable. Politically, environmentally, internationally, pandemic-ally — not to mention whatever’s happening personally — who knows what a day will bring? Not this guy. Yet, amidst the stress and uncertainty there is a peace that passes understanding. A wellness of the soul amidst the waves of the storm. There is a stability for the times for those who know Jesus, for those who abide in Jesus.

The King is coming, for sure. But the King has come — equally for sure. He will reign over all the earth, but even now He reigns. Then, we will be with Him, but even now He is with us, living in us and through us by His Holy Spirit. An anchor for the soul.

He is the Rock. He is the sure foundation. His promises are true. His provision is sufficient. His power known even in our weakness.

He is the stability of our times. Amen?

By His grace. For His glory.

THE SOLID ROCK

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name

When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In ev’ry high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

His oath His covenant His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay

When He shall come with trumpet sound
O may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the throne

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

Edward Mote | William Batchelder Bradbury
© Public Domain

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Behind the Curtain

Most often (like maybe always) I think of our hope as a hope which looks up to heaven. But this morning I’m reminded it’s also a hope that should prompt me to remember what’s behind the curtain.

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

(Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV)

Next chapter we’ll get into the implications of “the order of Melchizedek”, but this morning I’m chewing on the implications of a high priest who has gone behind the curtain.

One not only permitted into the inner place, but One wholly at home in the Holy of Holies. The place where the glory dwells. The place where the presence of God resides. The place where, if forever atonement is going to happen, it’s going to happen there. The place where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.

A forerunner. Noodle on that.

The high priests of Aaron’s line were also permitted into the inner place, but only once a year, and that as an exclusive invitation. No one else but Aaron & Co. could enter. They weren’t forerunners, they were a sole-runners. A one of a kind.

But Jesus, our great High Priest, is of a different sort altogether. Able to enter the inner place freely because of a perfect and holy life, making the way for others to enter because of His perfect and holy life. A life offered up for us as the once forever sacrifice for our sin. A life imparted to us through regeneration forever securing our salvation. A salvation which gives us hope. A hope tethered to the mercy seat. Though behind the curtain and unseen today, imagined only through the eyes of faith, a hope which acts as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.

To be sure weary saint, look up and cast your mind’s eye on the heavenly city to come. But equally sure, behold the curtain, enter by faith into the inner place where Jesus has gone ahead of you and even now makes ready a place for you. And there know afresh the reality of the anchor which holds fast amidst the storm. Tethering you not as some erratically bobbing buoy battered by the waves, but enveloped in the Savior’s arms, secure in the Spirit’s power, stable in the Father’s steadfast love.

Behind the curtain. An anchor tethered to the inner place. Sure and steadfast.

Be still my soul.

By God’s grace. For God’s glory.

Be Still My Soul (Finlandia)

Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In ev’ry change He faithful will remain
Be still my soul thy best thy heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end

Be still my soul thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past
Thy hope thy confidence let nothing shake
All now mysterious shall be bright at last
Be still my soul the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below

Be still my soul the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord
When disappointment grief and fear are gone
Sorrow forgot love’s purest joys restored
Be still my soul when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last

Be still my soul begin the song of praise
On earth believing to thy Lord on high
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways
So shall He view thee with a well-pleased eye
Be still my soul the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine

Jane Laurie Borthwick | Jean Sibelius | Kathrina Amalia von Schlegel
© Public Domain

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True of Me.

I’m guessing that for most people, most often, when they pause over Hebrews 6 it’s to have a debate. The question? Who, in these opening verses of this passage, has “fallen away” and cannot be restored again to repentance? Is it a believer the writer’s referring to? If so, then what about eternal security? Is it someone who looked like a believer but never was? If so, just how far can someone who is spiritually dead experience spiritual things without actually being spiritually alive? Theologians, start your engines! Let the debate begin!

But this morning, as I’m noodling on this passage, this I know, I am a believer. I am saved. And the signs of eternal life described in this passages are my vital signs. The taste described I’ve tasted. So, call me selfish, but rather than stew about who, I am going to rejoice in what is true of me.

. . . those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come . . .

(Hebrews 6:4-5 ESV)

Seen the light. Had a taste of the freely given riches of heaven. Have become a companion with the Holy Spirit. Experienced the sheer goodness of God’s word. Have had a sampling of the powers of a glorious age to come. Yup, that’s me! Praise God! Thank You, Lord!

How easy is it to take for granted water when you’re a fish? I’m guessing pretty easy (if a fish can think) given how little I think about breathing air. How dense I am to the wonder of atomic structures that flow into me unseen, do what they do as my body rhythmically keeps what it needs to keep and expels the rest.

Similarly, when’s the last time you looked in the mirror in the morning as you were getting ready and said to yourself, “Self, there’s the face of a divinely enlightened person?” As you brush your teeth and taste that minty freshness thought, “Nothing like the taste of the heavenly gift I’ve experienced and the goodness of the word of God I’ve known.” Looking deep into the eyes of the face staring back at you and whispering, “Wow! You are sharing in the Holy Spirit. Get ready for another day with an encounter of the divine kind as you are again graced with another appetizer-sized bite of the powers of the age to come.”

Okay, maybe it would be weird to have that kind of conversation with yourself as you look into the mirror with a toothbrush in your mouth. But have that conversation as you hover over your bible in the morning? Not so weird. Instead, wonderful . . . as in wonder full . . . as in worship evoking.

What a great salvation. What a jaw-dropping transformation. What a hope-securing expectation. All because — and no controversy about this — I am a child of God.

True of me. True of you?

By His grace. For His glory.

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A Use It or Lose It Thing

That they were struggling is evident. That they were complicit is also evident.

To be sure, taking a stand for Jesus within the predominant Jewish community of the first century wasn’t for the faint of heart. While many believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, many more believed that He wasn’t. The One who split time (think B.C. and A.D.) also split families, synagogues, and entire towns and cities.

So, to find that some were wavering in their new found faith, and were looking again to the old ways as the easier ways, probably isn’t surprising. That faith was feigning was perhaps expected, given that the flesh is weak. But while the author to the Hebrews is sympathetic to his audience as he contends for their faith, he also knows that their shaky foundation is in part due to their lax approach to the Scriptures. Reminding me this morning, that when it comes to standing firm in the faith, you need to be growing in the word. That it’s kind of a use it or lose it thing.

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.

(Hebrews 5:11-13 ESV)

The writer is trying to encourage these beleaguered believers with the excellencies of Christ. Urging them to keep on keepin’ on because Jesus holds the keys to the kingdom. How does he do that? He appeals to the Scriptures. The living and active word of God. The same way Jesus did on the road to Emmaus, he goes to what was written concerning the promised Messiah “in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” trusting the Holy Spirit “to open their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Lk. 24:44-45). But it’s hard to explain. Not so much because it was difficult to harness, but because they had become dull of hearing.

Literally, they had become lazy. And while the Spirit is more than able to illuminate the Scriptures, He needs something to work with. And these believers had, it seems, tapped out after the basic principles. For as long as they had had opportunity to learn the word of God, they should have been teachers. Instead, they were stuck retaking the 101 classes. While they should have been able to eat solid food like a grown up, they were still gumming the pabulum of stories they had learned in Sunday School. They were unskilled in the word. So, the writer to the Hebrews finds it frustrating to elevate their understanding of God given the sluggishness they had mired themselves in concerning the things of God.

The remedy?

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

(Hebrews 5:14 ESV)

Constant practice. Constant use. A deeply-formed habit. Trained not by some extraordinary means, but through habitual, regular, meaningful engagement with the life-changing word of God. Engaged constantly in personal reading and study of the word. Engaged constantly in sitting under the public preaching of the word. Engaged constantly in talking through with others the word — processing together its application to the realities of the day.

The living word then becomes the functional word as their powers of discernment are divinely developed.

All through constant practice. Using it so as not to be losing it.

I’ve said it here before, there’s no coasting. You can’t store up the manna, it atrophies. You need to be harvesting afresh, regularly and frequently, the bread supplied from heaven. You need be in the word and the word in you. Otherwise, it’s babies-ville. Pabulum palace.

God protect us from becoming dull of hearing.

Father, stir within us a hunger and thirst for Your sanctifying word. Help us to develop a taste for Your word and know that the Lord is good.

By Your grace. For Your glory.

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Our Confession and Our Confidence

As I finish up Hebrews 4 this morning, two penetrating commands to obey, one preeminent reason.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

(Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)

Hold fast. Draw near. Our confession. With confidence. How come? Burst forth with the tested and tried Sunday School 101 answer: Jesus!

They were wavering. Teetering between going on for Jesus, which was hard, and going back to the old ways which, though easier, would have forfeited the rest they were promised (Heb. 4:9). “Strive to enter the rest” (Heb. 4:11), is the exhortation to these Hebrews, “Harden not your hearts” (Heb. 4:7).

And that’s what it was, a matter of the heart. To what were they going to direct the centrality of their being — hope in their good works or faith in the finished work of the Son of God? How would they set their internal GPS, to seek ease and the favor of man, or to seek first the kingdom of God? Whichever it was, the word of God would splay open “the intentions of their heart,” for “no creature is hidden from [God’s] sight” (Heb. 4:12-13).

But I know my heart. Even at its finest it is so often so fickle. Even though my heart’s desires might be pure at times, it is also so easily distracted. Even with the best of intentions, too often the center of my being is beset with self-affection.

So even if I have ears to hear that I should hold fast to my confession as a Jesus-follower, even if my desire is to draw near with confidence to His mighty throne, if you knew me the way I know me, and the way God knows me, you’d know why I’m tempted to ask, “Who am I to stand so firm? Who am I to confidently draw so near?”

Wrong questions, though. It’s not “Who am I?” It’s “Who is He?”

He is our great High Priest. So let’s hold fast our confession. He has offered the once for all sacrifice for all our sin — past, present, and future — atoning fully for our transgression before a Holy God and able to declare us fully justified in His sight. Thus, let us not lose our grip on the One who has promised never to lose His grip on us. He has passed through the heavens and is, even now, at the Father’s right hand actively interceding for His own. So, let us stand firm on our profession that, “Jesus loves me, this I know!” Holding fast not because of who we are, but because He is our great High Priest.

Drawing near with confidence. Not in my own merit or works, but in His. The Son of God come in the flesh that He might be tempted in every way as we are — yet without sin — thus able to identify to the depths of my humanity and weakness. Victor over temptation, sin, and death. Now reigning on high. His throne a throne of grace. His call to me an invitation to draw near with confidence so that I might receive mercy and find grace in time of need. Not because I deserve it, but solely because I need it. Not that I’ve shown myself good enough, but that His grace is always sufficient enough.

Hold fast your confession. Draw near with confidence.

Not because of who you are, but because of who He is. Our great High Priest.

Full of abounding grace. Worthy of everlasting glory.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Amen?

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By Faith, By Effort

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.

(Hebrews 4:9 ESV)

You read those words and it has a way of settling the soul.

There’s rest and then there’s Sabbath rest. Rest where you pause from work, and then rest where the work is done. Rest when you cease from labor and then rest when there’s no labor remaining. Just as God created for six days and then rested on the seventh, because the work was finished and because the work was good.

That’s the rest available to the people of God. The Sabbath rest found in the finished work of the risen Christ, the Son of God.

But as I hover over these first 11 verses in Hebrews 4, I’m struck by the fact that, while it’s a rest we enter into by faith, it’s also a rest we enter into by effort.

For we who have believed enter that rest . . .

(Hebrews 4:3a ESV)

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest . . .

(Hebrews 4:11a ESV)

Enter by faith or enter by effort? Which is it? It’s both. It’s not an either/or thing, it’s a both/and thing.

Faith is the key that unlocks the door to Sabbath rest, but due diligence is required to inhabit all that is behind the door.

Far from faith being some effortless state of mind that carries us into depths of rest, it’s more an intentional discipline of mind that pursues that rest. A discipline, even of itself, which we are unable to muster up apart from trusting in His provision for it.

“I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 ESV)

So, it’s gonna take work. Having entered the rest we make every effort to enter the rest. Having believed we seek to behave. Have trusted we’re prepared for toil.

It’s a rest that comes with a yoke (Mt. 11:28-29).

Having been saved we then are to work out our salvation (Php. 2:12).

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(2Peter 1:10-11 ESV)

By faith we have entered. By effort we will enter.

By His grace. For His glory.

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He Holds On to You

“Hold on to Jesus.” Ever heard that said before? Ever given that counsel before? “Hang in their man, keep holding on to Jesus!” I think I’ve offered up such advice on more than one occasion.

But something I read in Hebrews 2 this morning, followed by a bit of digging into the original language, makes me wonder if — though holding on to Jesus might be good counsel — telling others that Jesus is holding on to them might be better counsel.

For surely it is not angels that [Jesus] helps, but He helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.

(Hebrews 2:16-18 ESV)

God’s Son, the appointed Heir of all things, the One through whom all things were created, the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of God’s being, the One who upholds the universe by His power (1:1-3), partook of flesh and blood (2:14), identifying Himself as part of the family of man, experiencing suffering as we experience suffering, in order to become a merciful and faithful high priest, to not only rescue us from death but also to help us through life.

That’s a mouthful. That’s a brainful. Pause, and noodle on it just a bit, and it becomes a heartful. For it is jaw-dropping wonderful. Amen?

In the midst of it all, I ended up chewing on the word help as it ignited my taste buds (as in “taste and see that the Lord is good” – Ps. 34:8).

Help in verse 18 has, in the original, the idea we’d expect it would. To relieve, to rescue, to support, to bring aid. Jesus is able to help. Not only able, but ready and willing. That’s why we encourage others to hold on to Jesus.

But the word translated “help” in verse 16 is a different word. The literal translation is “lay hold of” as in, “He takes hold of the offspring of Abraham.” He seizes them in order to rescue them from peril. So, beyond holding on to Jesus, might we not also encourage one another with the reminder that He’s holding on to us? I’m thinkin’ . . .

In my mind, it shifts seeing Jesus as some passive aid-giver waiting in the wings until we ask for His help to One who is actively engaged, proactively taking hold of us even as He lives in us and through us. That He is ever moving towards us to bring aid, even before we realize we need to be moving towards Him in search of assistance. Advocating for us even before we’re aware we need to cry out for ourselves. Not surprised or disappointed when again our weak flesh compromises our willing spirit, but anticipating it, having experienced it “yet without sin” (4:15), and compassionately, willingly, actively taking hold of us through His all-powerful, ever-present, never-changing, unfailing Spirit.

It’s not angels He lays hold of, but it’s us — Spirit-born children of Abraham by faith and for faith.

Hold on to Jesus? For sure! But know, weary saint, He holds on to you.

O, what a Savior!

All by grace. All for His glory.

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